The University of Georgia Men’s Basketball team was defeated by the Arkansas Razorbacks 99-73 on Wednesday night in Stegeman Coliseum.
South Dakota transfer Stanley Umude, averaging an even 10.0 points per game on the season, exploded for a 31-point outing in which he sank 6 of his 8 3-Point attempts despite entering the contest as just a 28.8% shooter from long range. The Arkansas offense was supplemented by their usual leading scorer JD Notae, who ranks second in the SEC in points per game, with his addition of 23 points, 9 rebounds, and 6 assists. The Bulldogs were led offensively by Kario Oquendo, the team’s leading scorer this season, who dropped 17 points on 5-10 shooting.
As would be reasonably inferred from looking at the 99 points put up by the Razorbacks, Wednesday night’s contest essentially boiled down to an offensive barrage for which the Dawgs had few answers defensively. Prior to the game in Athens, Arkansas averaged just under 6 made 3-Pointers per game before erupting for 15 triples on 28 attempts (a 54% shooting clip). In total from the floor, Arkansas put up an astonishing 71 field goal attempts, of which they made 40 on their way to a 56% shooting night.
In a post-game press conference, point guard Aaron Cook attributed much of Arkansas’ success to a lackluster defensive effort from the Dawgs, saying that “in the second half, we had no transition defense and no half-court defense. Can’t win. Arkansas was shooting 56% from the field. Not going to win. Bad defense equals a loss every time.” Arkansas enjoyed routine open looks from three for the majority of the second half, particularly right after the halftime intermission, during which the Dawgs trailed by only 6 points after leading for over 12 minutes in the first half. The Razorbacks opened the second half with a 12-2 run over the first 3:17 of action, in which 10 of their 12 points came from Umude as he found himself wide open from deep twice. In response to a question asking how Arkansas got so many open opportunities, Cook added that “everything” went wrong; “no rotations. No talk. Just overall bad defense.”
The deflating loss comes just 3 days before what will likely be Georgia’s biggest game of the season as in their matchup against the Auburn Tigers, who currently sit atop the latest national AP poll. When asked what main area of focus most urgently needed to be turned around in Saturday’s game, sophomore Kario Oquendo said that “being aware” would be a critical point of emphasis in their preparation. One of the main killers for the Bulldogs on Wednesday night was in the turnover department, as the squad totaled 19 for the game, 3 of which occurred while inbounding the ball underneath their own basket after a made Arkansas shot. Oquendo added that these “bone-head turnovers… [are] what we need to fix because [they’ve] been killing us this season.”
During his interview, Head Coach Tom Crean spoke to the gravity of turning a loss such as this one into a learning experience and opportunity for positive development, commenting that “when you lose a game like this, it becomes a mirror test. You look in your own mirror, not the two-way mirror or the funny mirror, your own mirror and say, ‘okay, what could I have done better?’” He also implied that Georgia fans could expect a heightened energy from his group on Saturday, saying, “if we have guys that struggle to get up to play the #1 team in the country in our own building Saturday then, really, they can go sit with their families. I can’t see that being an issue. Bottom line is we need to be ready to play, and we’ll have two days to get ourselves ready to play.”
The matchup against Auburn will tip-off in Stegeman Coliseum on Saturday, February 5th at 1:00 P.M.